Bruce Vilanch

Bruce Vilanch bigraphy, stories - American writer and actor

Bruce Vilanch : biography

November 23, 1948 –

Bruce Vilanch (born November 23, 1948) is an American comedy writer, songwriter and actor. He is a six-time Emmy Award-winner. Vilanch is best known to the public for his four-year stint on Hollywood Squares, as a celebrity participant; behind the scenes he was head writer for the show. In 2000, he performed off-Broadway in his self-penned one-man show, Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous.

Since 2000, Vilanch has been the head writer for the Oscars, after being an Oscar program co-writer for the previous ten years. He is a featured writer for the Tonys, Grammys and Emmys.

Other film and television appearances

Vilanch’s first television appearance as himself was in 1988, when he was interviewed by Chris Aable, the host and producer of the cable show Hollywood Today.

Vilanch appeared in the third season of Celebrity Fit Club in 2006, losing 21 pounds over the course of the show.

On RuPaul’s Drag Race 3, Vilanch appeared as a guest judge dressed as Santa Claus.

In April 2008, Vilanch filmed a commercial that spoofs Kobe Bryant’s jump over an Aston Martin. In his video, Vilanch is distracted, does not jump, and is run over by a semi truck.


Vilanch was the subject of Andrew J. Kuehn’s 1999 documentary Get Bruce! The film included interviews with Bette Midler, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg and grossed $43,155 in the domestic market. Vilanch’s mother, whom he credits with developing his sense of humor, also appeared in the documentary.

The documentary Laughing Matters…The Men, also released as Laughing Matters: Gay Comedy in America (2007), featured Vilanch alongside Alec Mapa, Bob Smith, Scott Kennedy, Andre Kelley and Eddie Sarfaty.

He appears as a commentator in the 2010 Christopher Hines gay body image documentary The Adonis Factor.


Vilanch has won two consecutive Emmy Awards for his writing of the Academy Award telecasts as well as an additional four Emmys for Outstanding Variety Show.

Vilanch has also been the recipient of a number of awards for his work in support of AIDS charities and GLBTQ rights charities:

  • Los Angeles Shanti Foundation’s Daniel P. Warner Service Award (1990)
  • GLAAD Media’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award (1997)
  • Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award (1998)
  • Outfest Honors Award for contributions to gay and lesbian visibility (2002)
  • AIDS Project Los Angeles Hero Award (2003).

Charity work

As well as performing in non-profit benefits, Vilanch’s charitable work includes serving on the honorary board of Aid For AIDS and once serving as master of ceremonies for the Los Angeles organization’s largest annual fundraiser, "Quest for the Crown" (later changed to "Best In Drag Show").Aid For AIDS Celebrity Support at

Vilanch emceed the event "Dancers Responding to AIDS", a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, in 2009 and 2010. In October 2010, Vilanch co-wrote and hosted the Los Angeles PAWS fundraiser, "An Evening with Tab Hunter".

Early life and education

Vilanch was born in New York City and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. When he was four days old, he was adopted by Dr. Jonas Vilanch, an optometrist, and his wife Henne, a housewife. Having her own theatrical aspirations, Mrs. Vilanch helped launch her son’s show business career by getting him signed on with Lane Bryant’s Charming Chub division as a chubby child model. Upon graduating from high school, Vilanch attended The Ohio State University as a theater and journalism student. While there, he appeared in student theater productions and wrote reviews, hoping it would be the beginning of a career as a playwright. In 1999 Vilanch stated, "I was going to be Neil Simon, batting out one Broadway show after another."